Facebook promises 'new home' on Android, rumors hint at HTC Facebook phone
Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) announced a press event April 4 to "come see our new home on Android." A number of reports indicate the company is planning to announce an HTC phone running a modified version of Android that offers deep and direct access to Facebook features including its News Feed, VoIP calling and messaging services.
The Wall Street Journal reported that Facebook plans to announce new software for Android that displays content from a user's Facebook account on a smartphone's home screen--thereby pushing Facebook's services above the level of a third-party app. The report indicated Facebook will demonstrate the service on a phone from HTC.
Separately, TechCrunch reported that Facebook plans to announce a "software layer" running on top of Android that would provide direct access to Facebook services like Messenger and VoIP calling. For voice calling specifically, the report indicated that the Facebook software would route calls over a standard cellular connection if the recipient doesn't have a Facebook-capable phone--thereby making Facebook's software a phone's default calling mechanism.
Finally, 9to5Google reported that Facebook and HTC are planning a major advertising initiative to support a Facebook phone.
Facebook has long been rumored to be planning to release some kind of "Facebook phone." Indeed, the company has made mobile a central part of its business, and in recent months has reorganized its operational structure to make its mobile efforts directly tied into its overall product strategy. Further, Facebook has managed to get its software built into Apple's iOS operating system, and has added messaging and voice calling into its apps in an effort to capture a greater portion of its users' communications.
As for a teaming between Facebook and HTC, the companies previously collaborated on HTC's ChaCha and Salsa phones, which featured a dedicated Facebook button.
Facebook now boasts more than 680 million mobile monthly active users in all. The company has repeatedly denied rumors it will expand its business into the mobile hardware segment. In addition, insiders say Facebook has privately promised both Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) that a branded smartphone is not in the cards.
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